A graduate of the Cook High School, class of
Jim's parents; James Sr. 88,2912 & Miriam
84,2011 (Teinila) Saranpaa
Sent: Tuesday, May 03, 2016
Subject: Vermilion Feeder Calf Auction
Here’s a picture of the very first year of
the Vermilion Feeder Calf Auction in October 1967. The
auctioneer in the white shirt was Morris Besser of Ogilvie, MN.
I am pictured on the right with a clip board. I recorded the
lot #’s, the sales price and the owner. To the left of the
booth is Randy Brodeen who got the release to move the cattle
out of the sales ring and back to their pen to await the buyer
to load them after the sale.
The auction was organized by area farmers, Tony Grebenc (Adult
Education Teacher), Leo Wilenius (Ag teacher and FFA Advisor at
Cook High School) with the help of the University of Minnesota
College of Agriculture, Forestry and Home Economics and the
County Extension office Tim Main, Agent. It was a way for our
area farmers to market their calves without having to endure the
expense of shipping them down to the South St. Paul Stockyards.
It’s first year was a huge success and the stockyards were
doubled in size the second year. The seating area was built for
the buyers and was a multi-level facility. Local farmers did
good at the sale and the buyers liked the area’s calves that
came from as far away as Cherry, Iron, Hibbing, Embarrass,
Tower, Bigfork, Littlefork, Greaney and other areas. Buyers
came from Iowa and Southern Minnesota. Hundreds of people
flocked to Cook on sales day and large cattle semi’s were parked
all around the stockyards which was located directly across from
the Arrowhead Seed Growers Co-Op. The ag students and FFA
members volunteered their labor to build the stockyards,
railroad ties for fence posts were provided by the DWP and
lumber was sawn by area sawmills.
All good things come to an end. Some of the buyers, instead of
waiting for auction day, started going direct to the large
farmers and offering to buy direct off the farm. Some of the
big operators got greedy and took them up on that. That led to
nasty disputes between those who gave their hearts and souls to
get this thing started, only to see them get screwed by the very
same people they were trying to help. One man actually
got in a fist fight when one of the scab farmers started hanging
around prior to sale day.
Once a huge success it
eventually died since the small operators could not compete with
their greedy neighbors.
Thanks, Jimmy Saranpaa
Memories of the past, His father
and his cars
Timber Days in Cook
Pictured in front of the Embarrass High
School. Note the bow-wow sleeping on the
school steps, probably waiting for his
brother or sister to finish school for the
day. His FFA Advisor at
the time was Waino J. Kortesmaki, who went
on to become long-time Executive Secretary
of the Minnesota FFA Association. “Kort”
was responsible for my development in
leadership skills, he sheparded me along,
named me to state FFA committees, arranged
for me to go to a week long leadership
conference at the University of Illinois in
Champaign-Urbana, named me to participate in
the FFA People-To-People Goodwill mission to
Europe. “Kort” made sure that when the FFA
Camp in Britt was in session, all groceries
were bought from the Cook Co-Op and he
visited with my father each and every year
he was up. I’m so proud of my father, he
grew up dirt poor, I mean really poor, he
couldn’t even afford a FFA jacket yet “Kort”
saw talent and brought him along.
and his cars
Here is my Grandfather’s old Model A
in front of my father’s home in
This is his 37 Chevy, both him
and my mother in front of her
home in Embarrass.
Here’s his 48 Chevy. He bought
it 1 year old from Reliance in
like the car, couldn’t see out
the rear window.
Here’s his brand new 52 Chevy
bought from Reliance.
front of my mother’s home.
Timber Days in Cook
James Saranpaa took
these photos from atop the Co-op